Superintendent explains reasoning for backpack ban

Lopez says student handbook violations contributed to decision

— Two days after more stringent backpack policies went into effect for Granger High School, the School District’s superintendent explained the decision more thoroughly.

The revised backpack policy announced Monday prohibits high school students from carrying backpacks, purses and other non-transparent bags that could conceal weapons or drugs on campus.

For physical education and athletics teams, students will be allowed transparent backs or mesh laundry bags.


Margarita Lopez

“For the last three years, all high school students received three-ring binders containing all the materials they need to bring between home and school each day for their classes,” Superintendent Margarita C. Lopez said Wednesday. “Students at the high school may also use clear bags and mesh bags to carry material into school during class hours.”

The policy was implemented after school threats rocked the Lower Yakima Valley and the nation – but not Granger – over the last several weeks.

“For several years, an established policy in the student handbook at Granger High School informs students that backpacks are not allowed in the high school's classroom and should remain in student lockers throughout the school day,” Lopez said. “The policy under the ‘Student Lockers’ section in the student handbook that our high school students received at the start of the school year last fall provides the information: ‘Backpacks will not be allowed in any classrooms.’”

But school threats put students, school officials and parents on edge in recent months.

And combined with violations of the student handbook, Lopez said the district was left with few options.

“Because of increased violations of this policy during February and earlier this winter that resulted in incidents of significant school vandalism and caused disruptions of instructional time in classes, this week, the high school informed parents and students that backpacks and purses should not be brought into the school during class time,” she said, noting the policy does not affect elementary or middle schools.

“This expanded policy also helps limit the presence of controlled substances on school grounds, and assists with improving overall school safety,” she said. “Teachers have informed our students about the revised policies this week.”

Beginning Monday, students with backpacks, purses and other bags could face disciplinary actions if they bring the banned bags on campus.

“The revision of policy at the high school does not affect long-established policies regarding backpacks at our other schools,” she said.

Neighboring school districts in Sunnyside and Zillah have not considered banning backpacks, officials in those districts said.


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